We all know that the world’s forests are on the brink of ecological collapse. Only 22% of the planet’s original primary forest cover remains ecological intact and even these areas are under relentless attack from transnational timber, mining and fossil fuel corporations.
For years forest defenders have been putting their bodies in the path of the destruction as well as targeting the big timber companies wherever they do business. This is important work and it needs to continue but if we are going to save the world’s old growth forests we need to open up new fronts as well. Since excessive U.$. wood consumption is the engine driving global deforestation, the time has come to target the companies who make millions retailing old growth forest products.
Top of the list of forest looting profiteers is The Home Depot, the largest do-it-yourself retail chain in the world. Home Depot boasts annual sales of over $24 billion and through its control of 20% of the home improvement market it is the largest retailer of old growth forest products in the world. Home Depot has over 700 stores in North America, has recently expanded into Chile and Brazil and plans to grow to over 1,300 stores by the year 2001. Currently they are building between 3 and 8 of their sprawl-mart mega stores every week! Each of these stores is filled with plundered old growth forest products. These include cedar, douglas fir and redwood from the temperate rainforests of North America; mahogany stolen from indigenous lands in the Amazon (a recent study by the Brazilian government found that 85% of all mahogany exported was logged illegally); lauana and ramin from the rainforests of Southeast Asia.
Home Depot likes to promote itself as an environmentally conscious company and has been saying since 1992 that it wants to go old growth free. Finally, in 1997 due to pressure from Headwaters activists they committed to stop selling old growth redwood. However, not only are they continuing to sell ancient redwoods but in negotiations earlier this year they admitted that they had made these promises merely to stop environmental protest.
Activists across North America responded to Home Depot’s role in liquidating the world’s last old growth forests with a day of action on October 14, 1998. Demonstrations were held at over 85 stores through out the U.$. and Canada including lockdowns to reclaim stolen rainforest products in New York, Northern California and Iowa. Many activists conducted guerrilla “Dead Rainforest Tours” in order to show customers the macabre truth behind Home Depot’s inventory.
While Home Depot scrambles to launch a PR counter-offensive, the actions continue. Escalating this pressure is essential if we are going to drive Home Depot out of the old growth business and stand in solidarity with the indigenous forest communities fighting to protect their homelands around the planet. So grab some friends and head out to your local Home Depot! Let them know that your not fooled by their greenwashing and that you want them to stop selling old growth NOW! For more information about the campaign check out www.homedepotsucks.com or contact the Rainforest Action Network at 415-398-4404 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.